** Warning some spoilers for Star Wars: The last Jedi ahead **
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (or more precisely my sofa) I sat as a child and watched the original Star Wars trilogy more times than I can remember. I absorbed the films and its expanded universe which at the time seemed unparalleled in its size and detail. I was a fan long before the 1997 re-release which introduced Star Wars to a new legion of fans, and paved the way for the much debated prequel trilogy, which certainly was a hit and miss affair, but also undeniably expanded on the lore and history of the saga.
Skip forward a few years and George Lucas sold Star Wars to Disney, giving us a re-birth and potential for any number of sequels, I for one was excited. The Force Awakens arrived, and although it was largely a rehash of a New Hope it did introduce some new characters and concepts, laying a solid foundation for the future trilogy. Followed up with the standalone Rogue One, which took Star Wars to a darker, perhaps more mature place, my expectations for Star Wars were high.
Now The last Jedi has arrived, whether you want to call it the second part of the new trilogy or episode VIII, and I rushed to the cinema to see it with not only two years of expectation from the Force Awakens, but also dragging 30 years of unextinguished fandom the size of a post all you can eat buffet Jabba the Hutt. The film is taking the box office by storm but I’m sad to say that was the day I out grew Star Wars, or more preciously Star Wars out grew me.
This is no longer the Star Wars I grew up with, neither stylistically or character wise. Indeed with Han Solo being written out in Force Awakens, Luke Skywalker’s passing in the Last Jedi (though no doubt he will reappear as a Force Ghost) and the sad real life passed of actress Carrie Fisher we no longer have the core of the saga, we have new characters introduced to fill their shoes, who the younger generations have seemingly taken to with great enthusiasm, this was to be expected of course as nothing lasts forever, but if you’ll indulge me in a brief moment of “fanboyism” I will explain my feelings.
In general I came out of the Last Jedi feeling cheated and disappointed, as an individual film it is a touch messy, overly long, and has a middle section that was not only extremely boring but turned out to have no impact on the plot whatsoever. Largely the film is a tangled reimagining of key scenes from Empire Strikes back or Return of the Jedi, with a few rug pulling twists thrown in. The film also seemingly tried to emulate the highly popular Marvel Cinematic Universe trend (which I also love) of having lots of puns and light humour, which works great when you have the likes Robert Downey Jr and Chris Pratt, but the cast of the Last Jedi didn’t seem to have the chemistry to pull it off. One of the most mysterious characters of Force Awakens, namely Snoke was finally introduced in the menacing flesh, but then killed rather offhandedly which has left the future films without a solid villain, leaving us with basically a tantrum throwing emo and a comically inept ranting general to carry the next film.
My biggest disappointment though is the portrayal of Luke Skywalker. Don’t get me wrong, Mark Hamill does some great acting in this film, and arguably the best of his career, but this isn’t the Luke I wanted to see. I’ve had decades of great expanded universe books, comics and games that have filled in the history of Star Wars with great moments for the character. These, after the Disney acquisition are no longer considered official, which in my opinion has left Star Wars feeling like a much smaller and colder universe. Understandingly the new saga wanted to do something a little different from the expanded universe, so what did we get after 34 years of not having Luke Skywalker onscreen ? Has he rebuilt the Jedi order ? No. Will be get to see modern special effects display his Jedi skills ? No not really. Will get to see his classic green lightsaber in action saving the day ? Again the answer is no.
What we do get is a grumpy old man living in a hut on an isolated planet. He is Yoda without the wisdom or enthusiasm. Indeed Yoda pops up at one point to give him a talking to (although somehow he looks more fake in 2017 than he did 1980). Luke’s return to the Jedi (if you’ll forgive the pun) at the end of the film could have salvaged the film for me, but even this turned out to be a misdirection with Luke finally fading away into nothingness, leaving the screen and indeed my Star Wars loving heart empty.
Whilst there is no doubt in my mind I will watch future installments of Star Wars I’m not waiting with any great excitement or enthusiasm, the opportunity for seeing the original cast, and mostly Luke Skywalker having one last hurray and bowing out as the heroic character he has always been to me has been squandered. And this is why I feel cheated, I will never now see the Star Wars will *I* wanted to see.
Younger audiences however seemed to love this film, they whooped with joy, laughed and applauded at moments where I was struggling to stay awake. This is why I believe Star Wars has outgrown me and not the other way around, this is a new generation, a new model and brings with it all the trends and clichés of recent popcorn media.
So much like my namesake I will hold on to the memories of the classic trilogy and the original expanded universe, I’m hanging up my lightsaber and finally fading away to become one with force and let a new generation take my place.